Chapter 1: Into The Woods
Awareness, for Bella, returned slowly. There was the ceasing of tears first, the salty tracks drying, turning crusty in places. And then with time the accompanying buzz faded as well. The world became clearer and clearer, she felt the drizzle soaking into her skin, drip after drip. Finally then, she could focus, the trees loomed tall and forboding around her, the sky darkened with each passing moment. She needed to get out of here! She didn't know how long it had been but her father would be worried.
Her grief had made her foolish, she had drowned in it, moving without knowing and she didn't know the way out. She couldn't just stay here though, she would have to wander, find some way out. Maybe not out of the pain straight away, but definitely out of the forest. She walked in the first direction that she thought she could see light, trusting non-existent senses to get her out of the woods.
Her clumsiness prevailed as she clambered roughly over the uneven terrain. Wayward branches cut harshly into her legs, tearing sharp and wragged into tender flesh. And trees up above wreached down their knarled arms, taking bitter swipes at her face as she passed them by. Her arms were granted some reprieve by the thick material of jumper but with each unsure step the woollen material unravelled.
She had been so sure she had been following the light but there had been no sign of it for so long, the sky gradually darkened up above her as the day slipped into unforgiving night. Hunger started to claw like a caged animal at her empty stomach, her lips and mouth were like sandpaper, bereft of any sustenance to hydrate them. Slowly but surely she was losing her energy, depleted by both the exertion and the blood dripping down her legs, caressing her cheeks.
She allowed herself a moment of bitter introspection: It's probably best that they're gone. They would have had a field day with this. But of course that just brought the grief back to the forefront of her mind. The loss of those she had come to see as family but had left her at the drop of a hat. They had not even bothered a goodbye. But then again if Edward's words were to be believed then she didn't mean enough for that small mercy.
She didn't know how she could believe it, maybe Rosalie, the cold woman who had never shown affection for Bella, maybe Jasper out of some misplaced guilt, escaping the emotions that must batter him all the time. Maybe even Carlisle, whilst he had cared he would do what he thought was best to protect their coven, protect his vampires from discovery by Aro and the high kings. But that was where her belief ended. She couldn't believe it of Esme, the woman who had endured cooking human food just to make Bella feel more welcome. Who had worried over every bruise and scrape she had gotten, fighting her blood lust to ensure she was properly fixed up. She couldn't believe it of Emmett, her big brother, who had given her the warmest hugs despite his cold skin, who was so careful with her, who was the friendlist guy she had ever met, who could always put a smile on her face, but was the first to stand up for her honour. She couldn't believe it of Alice, her best friend who had taken her shopping, and made her laugh and cared so much. She couldn't believe they would just leave her without a goodbye. But they had.
And once she started to think, what little energy she had left was substituted with grief. Such a debilitiating emotion that gripped her heart and stole her effort. She crashed. She was still lost, she was freezing, and what had been a drizzle was starting to pick up. She wasn't going to survive the night if she wasn't careful. Searching aimlessly was just wasting precious energy, so she settled in the shade of a tree, the thick leaved above her shielded her shivering body from the worst of the rain. It was the best she could expect, she could only hope that rescue came sometime soon, to take her away from this forest and the creeping cold.
Once she was settle she hesitantly rolled the base of her trousers up. Her ankle was slightly swollen and there was more blood than she would have liked but it could have been worse. It could have beena damn sight worse. And so with that thought in mind she slipped into sleep.
Chapter 2: The Whitlocks
Bella awoke the next morning due to the sun poking through the cover of leaves that she had sheltered beneath. That was always a first, sunshine in Forks. She felt a glimmer of disapppointment as the realisation that no saviour had come as of yet. She would just have to keep waiting. No she couldn't just be a sitting duck. Despite the hunger still twisting in her guts she'd have to walk on, at least to try and find some water, even if she couldn't find her way out quite yet.
With a sigh she stood up, brushing forest debris from her person, before finally looking up. To come face to face with a small woman with burning ruby eyes. A scream rose through her throat, but fear stopped her from letting it out. She backed away from the dirty blonde in front of her. There wasn't much room for escape though, her back hitting a tree. The vampire before her didn't move?
"Who sent you? Was it Victoria? Was it the Cullens? Did they decide to off me because of their laws but their veggie hearts couldn't handle doing it themselves?" Still the vampire girl didn't move closer, she just put her hands up as if to calm a frightened animal.
"I'm not here to hurt you. You shouldn't even know what we are. Me and my mate only hunt criminals. We were just going to help you out the forest." And despite the ruby in the woman's eyes there was also truth. Enough truth for Bella to let her guard down. There was no doubt in trying to run anyway. If the vampire truly wanted to hurt her there would be no escape. She knew that.
"Is this town just a vampire hot spot? Are you just passing through or what? And did you mention a second vampire?" And though she had accepted the precariousness of her fate, the wariness was not totally eradicated. It would have been stupid not being wary. She knew how much danger a vampire could pose.
“We were sort of passing through, in that we came for a short visit with an old friend. And yes my mate is about somewhere but I sent him out to the town to go pick up some food and liquid for you so you didn’t go and die on us.” Still the vampire had that calming tone that was obviously meant to placate. And despite Bella knowing it could just be a false sense of security she felt herself responding the the calm tone and strong southern twang.
Seeing that the human was responding the vampire lead the human to a clearing in the forest, guiding her to a fallen tree who’s trunk acted as a seat. The vampire took a seat on the floor, in an effort to intimidate the girl they had come to rescue.
“I thought now they’d left I’d be free of your lot. I’m Bella, and you are?” Bella gave up on her fear, it was just expending energy that she could not spare.
“I’m Charlotte. My mate who should be returning soon is called Peter. Once you have some very energy back in you I would be very interested in finding out just how you know what we are.” And she was. She’d just come to visit the Major. She hadn’t expected to rescue some waif of a girl and for that girl to know what they were.
They sat in silence for a good five minutes. Bella merely didn’t have the energy left to talk and Charlotte respected that, or at least seem to realise it. She merely sat at the girl’s feet watching her to make sure that she did not become ill or she faced any other threat.
Finally though there was a very faint russle of trees, a crinkle of a plastic bag before a male vampire was revealed. He was tall, and very broad, with eyes as red as his mate’s and hair that was blonde with streaks of brunette through it, giving it a dark look. Charlotte looked up immediately, smelling the scent of her mate seconds before she saw him, her eyes lighting up and jumping up at her natural speed.
She help back a laugh at Peter’s widening eyes as she kissed him on the cheek and took the plastic bag full of produce from him. His voice was urgent as he spoke to his love at the natural speed and volume for his species.
“What are you playing at Char? This is a rescue mission not a revealing mission.” This time she did laugh as she made her way over to an exhausted Bella, pulling out the bottle of water first, pulling the lid off and holding it out to the girl who accepted it with a grateful smile. Once the girl had taken the bottle Charlotte turned back round to her mate.
“This one is going to prove interesting. She already knows what we are.” Now that definitely got Peter’s attention.
“Maybe we were meant to meet the girl for some reason. It might explain why my senses were so adament that we go at specifically this point.” Charlotte cocked her head to the side. She was very familiar with her mate’s power, knowing that there was usually some higher message to the little notes the voices left her mate. This would make sense as well, the voices kept delaying him until a very specific time, only then would the power’s that be that resided in Peter’s head and ruled their lives, let them go. She could now only wonder what made this human so important.
Now that Peter was back though, she pulled him down to her perch on the floor, his arm almost automatically snaking around her waist, and her head resting on her shoulder. They watched as the human first downed the water, guzzling it in deep gulps, looking healthier by the second, as her body was re-hydrated. It was with a mix of fascination and disgust with which they watched her tuck into her food. Fascination at how she bit into the food, a look of rapt delight as she munched quickly through the produce. But also disgust at the scent that permeated from the sandwich. A chicken tikka. Whatever that was.
When she was finished with the food she put the rubbish in the plastic bag before smiling and pulling a little box out of the bag. Again she flashed a grateful smile at the vampire’s sat before her as she took two of the paracetamol with what remaining water she had. Almost instantly she felt relief from the headache with which she had dealt since the prior day.
Once she was settled again she turned back to her two new companions, finally ready to face their questions.
“Thank you so much Peter and Charlotte. I don’t think I would have lasted much longer without the water and the food was definitely wonderful. How did you know to get paracetamol?” The newcomer shrugged with an almost evil smirk, that was still somehow angry.
“Asked the nice lady in the shop what was beat for some simple aches and pains.” His voice was deep with an even stronger southern lilt to it than his mate’s. Bella nodded in response, it made sense, much less likely than it just being a lucky lady.
“So how did you find out about us, Little Lady?” Peter wasn’t the most patient of people at the best of times, and knowing from his mate that the little waif before him knew what they were had his curiosity going mad. Her response was definnitely one he hadn’t been expecting.
“I dated one.” He hadn’t been expecting it because by all logic, the vampire should either be here making a claim to her as a human pet, or she should be dead because he was done with his fun. This defied all logic.
“And why are you in this big bad forest and without your vampire.” He was not prepared for the sadness that overtook her features, her big brown eyes going flat and dead, with just the hint of a tear in her eye. Whatever pain it was, was obviously fresh.
“One of his family members tried to take a munch out of me on my birthday. Things were weird for a week or so, with me and his whole family and then yesterday asked me to go for a walk with him. Into this big bad forest. Told me that the rest of his family had left and that neither him or any of his family had cared for me in all the time they had been here.” During her explanation a few of her tears had spilled over and Charlotte had left her mate’s side to wrap a comforting arm around the girl’s shoulder. She leant into the offered cool body, the feeling both familiar and different, but definitely comforting as the woman shh’d her gently.
Her mate was not as sympathetic. He let out a snort as he shook his head. “I can’t believe you dated Doucheward Cullen.” Charlotte was just about to chastise her outspoken mate before she was beaten to the punch by an amused laugh from the girl beside her.
“Well I know it was a bad idea now. I was starting to resent him, he was so controlling. He didn’t want me to see my friends, tried to separate me from my dad, would only allow me free access with certain members of his family. But his family, they accepted me, I thought they cared about me, and it’s their leaving that’s truly hurt.” This time peter had nothing derisive to say. He wasn’t totally heartless.
“Which one tried to take the munch?” Bella quickly realised that these two vampires also knew the Cullens, and was obviously not very fond of Edward. She wasn’t sure about their feelings on any others of them yet.
“Jasper...” She was going to comment something more but she was swiftly interrupted by Peter.
“Bullshit. You need to tell us everything that heppened that day, because there is no way that the fucking Major who can be starving hungry, placed in a pit of bleeding humans and still resist and then try and bite one human with only 7 people’s bloodlust. You can’t even call it 7, more like 6 because that unnatural doctor doesn’t feel enough bloodlust to class it at that.” A touch of the old fear seeped back into Bella at the vehemance in the male vampire’s voice. She pressed back slightly into Charlotte.
“Back off Pete, let her talk.” And just as suddenly Peter was back to the nice calm guy that he had appeared before.
“Alice insisted on having a party for me, they were all around, mostly happy. I say mostly because Rosalie was never happy where I was concerned. Alice gave me the last gift. I’m a pretty clumsy human, so of course I had to go and cut my finger on the wrapping paper. Paper cut equals blood. Eyes went black. Edward pulled me closer, Jasper took a step forwards, glaring at me. Then Edward pushed me back into glass. Glass shatters and I bleed. Jasper leaps, Carlisle and Emmett try and restrain him. Edward stands directly in front of me, so I can’t see what’s going on in his mind.” There was silence as the two vampires tried to figure out what had gone on.
“The Major can feel the other’s bloodlust annd Edward was always directly in front of you or behind you. It may be that Jasper was going for Edward rather than you. Or he had something against you and was trying to use the situation to off you as if it was an accident. Though if that was the case they wouldn’t have left you here, and alive.” Bella had never particularly being that close to Jasper. She’d never got the chance. He was one that Edward would never let her access to. Stating he had the least control on his bloodlust. So what this vampire was saying was viable. Especially as he seemed to know Jasper personally.
“Saying that’s true. It doesn’t matter now. Their gone, and I assume you’re not going to just let me home to my dad so I can live my life as if vampires never existed?” Charlotte squeezed Bella sympathetically. She was fond of the human already and was sure with time they could become good friends. This time it was her who took over the conversation from Peter.
“I’m ‘fraid not Little Lady. By the sounds of what you said when you first met me you already have a vampire on your back so you have two options. We can kill you, we would do it quickly and as painlessly as possible. Or, we’d much rather, we can take you back to Texas with you, being as the Major’s clearly not still in town. We can change you, and offer you protection against this threat.” To Bella the offer was simple. She didn’t want to die, not just because of bad luck. And maybe she would lose all semblance of the life she had known but that couldn’t stop her from building a new one.
“I’ll come to Texas with you. If you mostly drain me, and shred my clothes, it’ll look like an animal got to me. Of course that will mean blood loss, so you’ll have to travel with a changing me if that’s viable.” The two mates looked at each other, clearly conversing over Bella’s head, before eventially they came to a decision.
“As long as we go by the outskirts we’ll be perfectly fine, Little Lady.”
Chapter 3: In Grief
Charlie Swan was not a man inclined towards big shows of emotions. They were something he kept close to his heart, if he felt them at all. He could count the times on one one hand when he had overly shown emotions. He had cried tears of sadness as he lost his parents, tears of joy had met the birth of his beloved daughter, and a crippling anger joined when the mother of his child left him and moved across the country down to Arizona.
As he awoke on a relatively dry say, he did not know he would be adding one more incident to that inclusive list. He had slept fitfully, waiting hour upon hour for Bella to return. He knew she had gone for a walk with her young beau. She had yet to return though, and although she spent less time with him than he liked, she had always told him if she wasn’t going to be back for the night. She had heard nothing. He realised she’d probably just forgotten but he was a father, and the ever present worry was ingrained with him.
As soon as he awoke that morning he went down to the phone to check that Bella hadn’t left any messages on the answerphone. When it became obvious she hadn’t his worry cranked up a little more. He pulled out the phone book and flicked through it until he came to the Cullen residence. It was the most obvious place for her to have gone, so it was the first place for him to try. There was no answer. Even more worryingly there was only a dial tone of a disconnected number. Like the Cullen’s were no longer in residence.
Well then maybe she had gone to another friend? Maybe that Lauren girl, or Angela? Alice and Edward weren’t the only ones his daughter associated with. He tried Angela first, she was the nicer of the pair he knew, and definitely the one Bella would be more likely to associate with easily and willingly. Surprisingly it was the girl who picked up the house phone and not her mother or father. She answered with a confused hello.
“Sorry, for the early morning call, Bella didn’t happen to have spent the night with you did she?” Charlie wasn’t a particularly religious man but he was tempted to start praying.
“No, she went for a walk with Edward. I think his family has left and he was telling her goodbye or something?” So it was connected with that Edward boy. Charlie thanked the teenager before hanging up the phone.
Bella wouldn’t have left with Edward would she? She’d definitely consider it, she loved the boy, that much he knew despite how much he himself hated the controlling prick. But before he gave her up as a runaway he would ask some of the Quileute boys to check the close forests for her. Maybe she had just gotten a little lost on her walk. That was more like something Bella would do.
Even though the worry still beat at his heart, he went upstairs to get dressed for the day. He had a job to do. He could get the boys on the search once he got to the station. And it was exactly what he did. He called Billy, knowing his old friend had authority over on the reservation. He told him of his worries and the man was quick to say he would send someone out to look for the missing girl.
And so whilst a man sat worried at his desk, glad for no jobs coming in due to his inattention, there was a force sent into the forest. Not willingly though.
Sam Uley had been tempted to refuse when his elder had come to him asking for their help. They were being sent out to go looking for the leech lover. He had no idea if she knew what they were but it was bad enough without her knowing. Of course, whilst he was a powerful wolf, Billy Black was an elder and by reservation rules he was bound to obey.
Find the girl. A part of him hoped that the vampire was still with her. An excuse to kill the disgusting leech. And if it was in self-defence, because he was sucking from his pretty little girlfriend well then his family couldn’t do anything to stop him could he.
As he went out the door, he sent one final glare at Billy before going off to find the rest of the pack. He was only glad that the Black offspring hadn’t shifted yet. He’d have taken it personally being friends with the leech lover and all that. Sam couldn’t wait until he could put a stop to that friendship, poisonous as it was.
First though he had to find the girl.
He and his pack bounded through the forest, sniffing at the ground for the scent of the girl. And finally they found it. Deep in the forest, surrounded by the scent of other vampires. More than one scent, slightly overshadowed by the scent of foreign blood signifying the creatures as human drinkers.
Do you smell that? Foreign vampires. Definitely not Cullen’s. The initial question had come from Jared
It’s starting to fade. Whoever they were are gone. Let’s see if we can find the remains of the Swan girl. The reply had come from Sam. He was the Alpha for a reason. The scents intermingled too much for there to be any hope for the Swan girl. The few signs of the Cullen were a good few hours older than the nomad’s so she had had no protection.
The search was now fruitless, but Chief Swan would need evidence. And so they traipsed on until they came upon a clearing. A blood drenched clearing. And there at the centre a shredded blue… thing. It was too shredded to be a t-shirt.
There’s so much blood, I didn’t think they’d be so messy in their feeding. The comment had come from the youngest pack member. But the observation made Sam look around. Pieces clicking in his head. The only thing he was missing was the why. This is the first time he had scented these particular scent so the Swan girl couldn’t know the scent. So what had possessed the Swan girl to fake her own death and leave with nomads that she couldn’t have known.
Because this is a set up. The leech-lover left with the foreigners. We take the t-shirt. We tell her father it looks like an animal attack. She won’t be coming back here. If she does it won’t be a fake death this time. Sam’s voice was hard, even through the mind link. The disgust played in his mind, poisoned his companion’s mind with it ferocity.
He bent to pick up the t-shirt between gritted teeth before they all bound swiftly back to the reservation. Once on the outskirts they shifted back to their human forms with varying levels of seamlessness. Still gripping the t-shirt Sam growled out a dismissal to his pack whilst marching up towards the Black house.
Irritated fists pounded relentless on the wooden door until a confused looking Jacob Black opened the door. A little displeasure flashed on the boy’s face as he saw who was behind it.
“What do you need, Uley?” His voice was stiff, but a part of him was wary. The anger was rolling off the other young adult in waves, his physique mixed with his demeanour gave him a dangerous presence that screamed ‘back off’.
“I need to talk to Elder Black.” At those words Jacob stepped back. His father was only ‘Elder Black’ when it regarded business. He left out to his car leaving the angry man and his father alone to talk. He knew he’d just be dismissed anyway.
“Samuel, do you have news?” Said man did not verbally reply, he flung the blood crusted shirt onto the coffee table in front of his Elder. The man wheeled forwards slightly. He fingered the cloth, saw the undercurrent of colour. A sadness entered his eyes. “I see. I will tell Charlie. Was it her leech who did it?”
A snort escaped the wolf shifter.
“Oh no, he’d already gone, left her to perish in the woods. Foreign nomads, and she left with them. There was enough blood and that scrap to explain it as an animal attack. Very well orchestrated.” Bitterness entered his voice. If there was one thing he hated more than the regular vampire, it was those that willingly became those vile blood-sucking creatures. Once he had said his piece, Sam Uley left without dismissal, leaving Billy Black with a bloodied shirt, a great task ahead of him, and his own thoughts.
This was something Billy needed to do in person. This wasn’t news he could tell over the phone. He’d have to tell his Jake as well. He only hoped the news didn’t accelerate his change, Jake was too hot headed to cope with it yet, but he could see the signs, he had seen it in all the new wolves.
He called to Jake, asking him to prep the truck as he needed to visit Charlie. Jake was more than happy to, he liked the chief, having being round the man so much as a child that he was like an uncle. He noticed that his father was quieter than normal but thought nothing of it, assuming it was just Reservation business that he was rarely privy to. He helped his father into the truck before driving along the familiar roads to the police station.
Once again, when they arrived, Jake helped Billy back into his chair before allowing his father his freedom and following behind the man as he made his way up to the police desk. The lady at the desk greeted them familiarly, having worked there for a number of years so being used to the two men. She led them straight through to Charlie after knocking on the man’s door and letting him know who was on the other side.
Billy couldn’t bare to look up at his oldest friend as he wheeled in. And whilst Charlie wasn’t overly emotional he was observant. Where he had stood to greet Billy and Jake, hand half out to shake hands, he sank heavily back into his chair. Seconds later his hand followed his body.
The dread that had followed him all day flared like a fire that had just caught gasoline. But he shouldn’t give up yet. Maybe Billy had had his own bad news? But then why wasn’t Bella with them?
“Billy?” Charlie cursed himself for his voice cracking, he dare not look at Jake, didn’t want to see if the young boy was catching on. If he knew anything at all that was going on. Finally the wheelchair bound man looked up, a sorrow and sympathy dancing in his dark eyes, before he pulled out the shredded t-shirt.
“Sam and some of the others found this in the clearing east of your place. And blood, lot’s of it.” He signed heavily, “I’m sorry Charlie.”
Charlie just sat numb at first. He was the police chief, he knew what these things separately meant. Missing person, shredded garments, blood in surrounding area. It all pointed to animal mauling. But his brain didn’t connect it with his little girl. With his Bells. He just stared at the bloodied cloth, waiting for it to fix it self, fill itself with a body, and the smiling face of his daughter.
But it didn’t the only thing that happened was a sob from across from him. Jacob had sank into a chair next to his father, the elder carding a hand through his son’s hair as he grieved.
And finally, finally it hit him. Like a truck hit’s a stationary car, swift and hard, sending him rolling, crushing him into a small ball that couldn’t function. A sob left his lips, a sob that quickly escalated into a scream, that descended into a choked cry as he let the tiniest bit of the grief he was feeling out. He grasped at the shreds of the clothes still remaining, holding it to his face, looking for some kind of scent but finding nothing.
He couldn’t understand how he had been there just yesterday, happy and excited, talking about school and Edward and her fears and hope. Then just hours later she was gone, and she wouldn’t return. He wished she had run off with Edward now. At least there would have been hope then. He had no idea how he would go back to their house, a house that finally become hoe with the presence of his daughter, how he would cope with the emptiness. Her stuff still splattered around as if she would come back and tidy it up, or move it.
And he dreaded telling Renee. He could barely accept it himself.
The change was intense. Of course Edward had explained the fiery burn to her, she had even gotten a taste of it when she was attacked by James, his venom burning through her, racing from her heart, trying desperately to reach her heart and make her one of them. But that had been nothing compared to this, this never ending torment, it lasted for hours, for days, maybe even months that bled into years. It was incomparable to anything she had experienced before. It was desperate and ravaging, melting her alive.
And still she did not regret this choice, this choice to not die, to be reborn, stronger and immortal, she would have forever. She was thankful to Charlotte and Peter, for finding her and bringing her to new life, and deep down for saving the Cullen’s from the punishment of her knowledge. Despite how they had hurt her with their callousness she didn’t want to see them hurt or dead because of her, she could not just turn the love for them off just because they did not return it. Love would be a lot simpler if it only existed where it was returned.
Well maybe at the point of this fire she did, this raging inferno that allowed little space for thought around the never ending pain. She wasn’t sure if she was successfully changing, or if she had been sent to the eternal flames of Hell, a punishment for every crime she had committed in her life. She didn’t think there had been that many crimes, she thought she had been good. But the flames, that must be born of Hell, said otherwise.
But finally, after an indescribable amount of time there was a slight recede in the agony. Just at the tips of her limbs, a miniscule change in the grand scheme of the inferno, her fingers becoming ice in comparison to the heat that enveloped the rest of her body.
And slowly but surely, it started to recede elsewhere, slipping in to her core, ice being left in it’s wake, her heart increasing in intensity, the speedy beats and fiery heat burned through her, pulsed through her head. A scream fought to be released, a weakness she didn’t allow, and just when she thought she could take no more, there was a stuttered beat, and then the fire strangled her heart and died out.
There was a pleasant quietness left in it’s wake, and yet it wasn’t silence, it was the buzz of sound that she should not be able to hear overwhelming her senses. The buzz of electricity in the old house, the creak of a chair as Peter rose from it. A fact she could only tell by the increase in her nose’s ability. Peter to her left, Charlotte’s scent over the top heavily, and then to her right was Charlotte, and like her mate Peter’s scent clung heavily over the top.
Were they threats? And though the logical part of her was saying no, saying they were friends, her vampire brain was screaming at her that they were. Not at first, but the second she opened her eyes she was met by their familiar faces… and the not so familiar scars that littered porcelain bodies. So many, they were a threat, they were dangerous. A growl pushed past her lips, deep and agitated as she got up quicker than she thought possible and dropped into a crouch. They were both in her eyesight.
She was surprised when they both ducked their heads and bore their necks to her. She could see more scars on the back of their necks, deep and angry that would never fade. There was so many she wasn’t sure how she hadn’t noticed them just the other day when she had been in the forest with them. And then Peter spoke to her, voice steady and placating.
“It’s okay Little Lady. It’s just me and Char.”
Bella recognised the voice, a fleeting memory of a past that she had tried to cling on to. Only a small part of it, but an important part nonetheless. She thought desperately against the instincts in her that told her to attack. Her heart was telling her it would be a bad idea, that these people meant something to her. Also, her head was saying it would be a very stupid move. The fact she could see all the scars, and yet they were standing right before her, told her she was hopelessly outclassed.
Still, her instincts screamed within her. And whilst she managed to fight a full on attack, she let out a growl that rumbled through her chest with a ferocity she was incapable of in humanity. She pushed up even further into the bed, and wall, behind her back, trying to escape the threat. It was the only option left that appeased her warring emotions. If she could not fight, then she needed to escape.
She was so sure, that with her enhanced stress she’d be able to break through the wall, but alas it was strong, enforced by these vampires with something that was impervious to their species. Alas, the bed was not quite as lucky, the wooden frame practically crumbling under the pressure. This time the growl that escaped was out of frustration.
“Come on Little Lady, we need to calm ya down so we can go get some munchies.” Peter was starting to get impatient now. It had been a good half a century since he’d done the newborn thing, and whilst he remembered all the right things to do, he had forgotten how pig-headed and temperamental they could be, especially in the first few hours when they’d just woken up, when everything was new and terrifying, and the burn of hunger roasted them alive and yet they didn’t know what it was.
As such, he was endlessly relieved when, at his question, Bella’s head tipped to the side, some of the animosity in her posture was replaced with curiosity. And then a little more, as what ‘munchies’ meant entered her mind. The low rumble from her throat, which he was almost positive she was unaware of, was replaced by a high keening as she grasped at her throat. He figured she’d put the two together because of her past knowledge of vampirism. Most did not associate food with the burn in their throat until the second or third feeding.
“That’s it Little Lady, you’ve got it. You wantin’ some criminals or Bambi for lunch?” He knew that the Cullen influence was likely to have influenced, and he wouldn’t force his diet on the little lady if she’d already made her mind up.
However, he could not deny the little relief that went through him when her keening stopped slightly, the little head tip of curiosity came into play, and then a whispered ‘criminal’ told him that she was going to be following the traditional diet. He let a small grin cross over his face. Whilst he loved Jasper, he wasn’t so fond of the rest of the bunny-munchers so this felt like a small victory.
“That’s just fine, Little Lady. You’re a little young to take you into town yet. So I’m gonna make my leave now, and Char’s gonna stay with you. She’s gonna keep talking to you. Is that okay?” It was always best to check with the newborn if they were comfortable with the actions. It stopped them from going off the wall and trying to attack. Whilst he wasn’t ashamed of his scars, he sure as hell wanted to avoid anymore.
When he got his agreement from Bella, he turned around, baring his back in a show of trust. He knew Char was there if Bella decided to take it as an opening anymore. But everything was fine and he managed to make his leave, and head to town, with no mishap. He just hoped he didn’t come back to a trashed house.
Charlotte grinned to herself as she watched the astonishment cross over Bella’s face at the obvious trust that Peter was granting her. By this point she had fell silent, her mind distracted by everything. Her hunger on her backburner, her anger forgotten. With time and the nickname repeated over and over she had remembered just who Peter and Charlotte were and why she was there. She was now sitting cross legged on the bed, looking at where Peter left with stunned wonder on her face. Charlotte wished she had a photo for this moment, so she could show Bella just how amusing her face was.
“Hey Isa, mind if I join ya?” The young vampire’s head shot up, her attention riveted on Charlotte. Before a small smile lifted her lips and she nodded towards the bottom of the bed. Charlotte took the invitation with a returning grin, lounging lazily across the end of the bed.
“I’d have helped you with a shower, but you’re about to get a little messy.” She had helped a number of female newborns with their first few washes. It was just easier than replacing the taps and shower heads depending on the available facilities. Some minded more than others but Bella merely shrugged.
“That’s okay, I don’t mind,” Then with a hint of vulnerability, “How do I know where to bite?”
Charlotte honestly tried not to laugh. She didn’t want to upset Bella. But the question was so innocent despite it’s topic, and she looked so unsure, that she just couldn’t help it. A little chuckle escaped her lips.
“Don’t worry so Isa. It’s instinct and trial and error. It won’t matter for a couple of weeks. The first feed you’ll be so overcome with the need to feed, that the etiquette of the moment won’t event cross your mind.”
Losing her sense of self was an idea that scared Bella. She had started to feel that with Edward. As if she had become so embroiled in him and his life that she was no longer her, but rather an extension of him. At times she had become too afraid to question him, or she had been manipulated with promises of safety and care, so his wants became hers.
She also knew this wouldn’t be the same. In a sense this would be the exact opposite. With Edward she was fighting her instincts, her only reprieve her power to protect her mind, and yet in this case she would be giving into primal instincts. The scary part was that they were new, and whilst they were part of her they didn’t feel like her. But there was nothing she could do about. Well apart from worry, and then probably feel foolish over it, like she had with how she had reacted after she had awoken.
Instead she pushed the thoughts to the back of her mind, talking to Charlotte, getting to know the girl who had changed her, and was due to play a part in her life. She learnt all about Peter, and how they had met and how the Major had let them free, and then how they had come back for him. She also asked questions about the vampire lifestyle. About skills and benefits. And also the downsides. She wanted the most rounded view she could.
And yet, just as she was starting to relax... she caught the scent. It was feeding time.
Chapter 5: Chafter 5
There was many an adjective that could be used to describe the current state of the Cullen Clan. But maybe the most apt would be ‘disarray’. Everything was back to front, upside down, topsy turvy. Or maybe just describing them as a mess would get the idea across just nicely.
Because they were, you know. A mess that is. Let’s start with Jasper. He was the catalyst and damn if he didn’t feel it. It would have been impossible not to. Carlisle sending out a wave of disappointment, before abruptly reining it in. The damage had already being done. Emmett and Esme falling into sporadic bouts of sorrow. So lost in it that they did not even contemplate reigning it in. They pushed it at him, relentlessly until it screamed like an inferno inside him. Even Rose was prone to bitterness. Not a direct consequence of Bella herself, but more her own husbands sorrow at the action. Each emotion built up brick by brick until there was a world upon his shoulders.
It was made worse by his own confusion. It had not been a normal attack in his own head. He had felt the Major, yes. He had felt the other’s bloodlust, varying degrees of strength but identifiable nonetheless. But his own emotions had being less identifiable. There had been a roaring anger, a fierce protectiveness. An illogical protectiveness. Was he going for Bella? It had seen so obvious back then. Bella was bleeding, he felt his own bloodlust and the other’s as well. It was a foregone conclusion. Even if he had brought up his feelings to the others he was sure he would be dismissed. What reason would he have to protect the human? Especially when he had been so intent on killing her initially and had barely bonded with her since.
Maybe it would have been okay, if he’d had support on the home front. If he’d had someone to talk through his emotions, someone who was fully on his side, someone who to hold him when the guilt and confusion warred like Maria verses her enemies back in the Southern Wars. His wife, his Alice, had been drifting slowly away for years, he had known it but she’d always been present. She had not always been the best wife but she had always been his best friend. She had supported him when the rest of the family had been a whisker away from kicking him out. She wasn’t now though. He felt her absence like a chasm over a river. He was one side and she was the other and no matter how far he reached he would never reach her. He felt like he was going to collapse from the weight of it. The weight of the emotions and his own impending loss.
Esme could sympathise. Though she wasn’t doing a very good job of it at the moment. She was lost in herself. She remembered early on, Rose’s warning to the family that befriending Bella would only end in misery. Of course this wasn’t what Rose had foreshadowed but the misery had come nonetheless. Bella had left them, seen their true nature and ran for the hills, wanting to cut all contact. She couldn’t blame Bella, she didn’t even blame Jasper. But it hurt. She’d accepted Bella in her heart, not even as Edward’s mate but a child in her own right. She had been like a final piece of a puzzle that the family had not even realised they’d been missing. Now with her piece gone, the rest of the puzzle couldn’t support itself. It started to fall apart from the inside out.
Likewise, Emmett could sympathise. Bella had been his little sister in everything but blood. She held a place in his heart even more than Alice even despite only knowing her for a few short months. Sometimes he’d feel like he was moving on, the pain would subside just slightly, Rosie would distract him (Rosie was very good at distracting him). But then he’d think of something funny, something he’d usually say to Bella and he’d feel it all over again. It sucked.
The Cullen was as divided as when they first came together. More so even. At least back then there was the excuse of not knowing each other very well. Of being strangers, they had yet to learn quirks and preferences and to appreciate each others humour. But this time the separation was emotional. Being with each other reminded them of what they’d lost. It was like ripping a scab of an unhealed wound. Not only did it sting but it bled anew. Jasper secluded himself in his study. Drowning in books that held his attention but not any enjoyment. Something to focus on other than the emotions that beat at his conscience. Esme spent more time with Carlisle. Just sitting on his couch in his office. She felt protected with Carlisle and the sound proofed walls gave her a deeper sense of ignorance. If she couldn’t hear the world then surely the world did not exist. Whilst Carlisle worried, he indulged her. He was glad to be in a bigger town where work was a liable excuse. It felt like living in a graveyard. Rosalie and Emmett were like limpets. They stayed close, always looking for that physical affirmation of the others presence. None of them knew how long they could continue like this before they just disintegrated on each other.
So now you know the thoughts and feelings of the majority of our esteemed clan but surely you’ve noticed the lack of mention of a certain duo. I wanted to save them until last. Edward was Bella’s boyfriend, Alice her best friend. Surely they deserve a special mention, no?
In current Cullen terms it was a normal day. Carlisle hiding at work, Esme in his office. Rose and Emmett watching a movie together (Though watching was a loose term for all the attention they were paying the screen). Alice and Edward were missing in action. Their whereabouts unknown to the rest of the family as they were so often now.
But Jasper, he was an anomaly today. It had been a good week since he had last fed and whilst there was a lack of tempting humans the hunger burned in the back of his throat. It had been creeping up on him, first a warming heat, then a tickling irritation but by this time it was nigh on an inferno burning his throat, it’s only blessing being that it shut off all knowledge of other emotions. It was only logical then, that he went out to the forest to satiate the hunger.
Until he stepped outside he didn’t realise how much he had missed the sunshine, bright and warm despite not actually warming him. He had missed the breeze whistling past his ears, the pressure of it as science dictated that he should slow down, the tickle of stray branches reaching out to his marble skin, the freedom, as he ran at inhuman speed.
And then there was the hunt. Spying the target, hearing it’s heartbeat thud, thud, thud. A rhythm so gentle, so lulling that you almost want to sleep rather than chase. But then as you get closer it’s scent hits you. Rich and dark, though not the best, a dollar store chocolate in comparison to premium Belgian chocolate. Still tasty but paling in comparison to the true prize. Even closer still and it’s instincts set in, ears dart up, eyes dilate, that lulling heartbeat almost becoming a stutter in its haste thudthudthudthud.
It leaps graceful from its spot. Legs pushing it further and further away. But never far enough. It is prey, Jasper is predator. His fangs sink deep into its hide, sucking for all he’s worth. And then it’s empty. Time for take two.
And there was a take two, as well as a take three, four and five. He drank until he felt passed satiated, until he felt sloshy inside, almost nauseous.
With nothing left to do, he started to make his way back. That was when he heard Edward’s voice. Quiet, so clearly a fair distance away, but discernible nonetheless.
“Can we leave yet, love?” At those words, Jaspers first instinct was that maybe the whole Bella thing was a hoax. Who else would Edward be calling love? Had she been this close this long. He almost wanted to rush in there, scream at her for destroying his family, for causing them heartache. But he listened instead. His curiosity getting the better of him.
“Soon. She’s disappeared from my visions so she must be dead. Jasper is just as ignorant as before. The family is practically falling apart. We’ll just be the first to go.”
The second voice was like a sucker punch to Jasper’s gut. All he’d heard mixed in his head as he tried to make sense of it. Alice and Edward were having an affair? They wanted Bella dead? And just what was Jasper ignorant about, because his gut told him that it wasn’t just the affair they were referencing, as much as he had being ignorant about that.
Chapter 6: Chapter 6
Bella could smell the human from at least a mile away. Just a faint murmur at first, a nice scent in the air, but second by second it got closer, closer and closer and stronger. It became almost unbearable, like the scent of bacon when you’ve yet to eat breakfast.
She wanted it so bad that she almost jumped from the window in order to meet her meal half way. Her throat burned with ten thousand fires, her nose filled with the scent. Only her own pure will kept her where she was, she sat so still and so straight that it would be immediately obvious she was something a little more than human. It was probably illogical, because she knew that Peter and Charlotte expected it of newborns, but she felt she needed to wait, to prove she was worth the effort after they had rescued her from that forest despite not even knowing who she really was. She also wanted to check that the person she was feeding from was actually a criminal. Whilst she didn’t like the idea of feeding on animals, for that was as bad as feeding on innocent humans, she didn’t want to take the chance that the human was actually innocent.
She knew the exact moment that Peter entered the house with the human. The previous scent intensified by about ten times. What was a fire became an inferno, a raging blaze as his scent wrapped around her, filled every corner of the house with it’s alluring presence. She needed to be closer to it. She needed it within her, filling her starving body with it’s taste.
Before she was even considering it she was up on her feet, rushing quicker than she’d ever moved before towards the door. Only pausing when she pulled the weak wood of it’s hinges as she flung it open. She looked confused at the door in her hand, both because it was no longer on it’s hinges and because she was able to carry it with such ease. It was like a dead weight in her arms despite her knowing that it actually had a substantial weight, one that she definitely wouldn’t have been able to manage as a human.
With a sigh she turned back to Charlotte, her mind temporarily waylaid from the temptation downstairs.
“Do you have a spare door?” Charlotte, who had being giggling softly since the door first came off it’s hinges, broke into full belly laughs. The kind that can only be brought on by a close friend doing something stupid, the kind that would end in tears if they had been human. Bella glared at her but didn’t say anything further, letting the older vampire’s giggles subside on their own.
“Don’t worry Isa, we got a few spares whilst you were changing. I got through 12 in my first two weeks.” Okay, so it was a newborn thing, not a Bella thing, that was definitely a comfort. Still though she was holding a spare door.
“What should I do with it?” Again Charlotte let out some resemblance of a laugh due to the innocence with which the question was asked with.
“You give it here Darlin’. You go downstairs and go feed. You’ve done fabulously to hold on this far. This is the kind of restraint we usually see in newborns who are at least half a year old.” Bella pushed the door out towards Charlotte with murmured thanks.
She had managed to temporarily shut out the beautiful scent from downstairs, the way one shuts out the scent of food they know they can’t have. The temptation is definitely still there but you promise to focus on anything but the scent in hopes that it won’t effect you so much. And like usual, it worked for a short amount of time, whilst there was something else to distract her. And like always, as soon as the distraction was removed the temptation returned, ten times worse than before. Any restraint she had was removed and she rushed downstairs (without destroying the house further).
When she was there she was met with the sight of Peter lounging around on the sofa, his feet propped up on the coffee table as he had his arm wrapped around the shoulders of a relatively short male with wavy brown hair, American white teeth and blue eyes glittering with his fear. Because the arm around his shoulder was decidedly not friendly, it was oppressive, a warning of impending doom. Peter smirked up at Bella from his position.
“Hey, Little Lady, I brought you lunch and you destroy my home. Tut, tut, tut.” Bella was listening to Peter, she was even a little amused because she could hear the joking in his tone, but none of the rest of her attention was on him. Her eyes were fixed on the man’s neck, she could see his neck throbbing, faster than usual in his terrified state, as blood flowed from his racing heart to his frazzled brain. Trying to desperately oxygenate the organ so he could make sense of his predicament.
No amount of oxygen to his brain could lesson this complete petrification, nor could it make sense of this situation. He had been out in the streets, the man holding him had accosted him, looked him in the eye before flinging him over his shoulder as if he weighed little more than a feather. He started to scream, both as a fear response and in hopes of attracting attention. Yet before the air had even had chance to pass his lips there was a hand over his mouth. A hand of pure unyielding marble. The creature, because the man could not be human, had then proceeded to run at breakneck speed under tree cover to this home. It had been surreal just sitting with this man, confused when he’d laughed.
Even more surreal than the man was the woman that had come down the stairs. She was the most beautiful person he’d ever seen, her hair seemed to dance around her shoulders, she was the personification of grace, there wasn’t a single blemish on her whole face. It was mesmerising and terrifying in it’s own right. Or maybe that was just the blood red eyes that stared fixedly at his face… or was it his neck?
“What has he done? I know it’s silly but I need to know he’d worthy?” The woman had a voice like charms, it danced in the air and rustled through his hair. He could not think of what he had done. He had done many a bad thing, but very little good. He didn’t want to know what would happen if he was to be found unworthy.
“Oh don’t worry sweetheart, there’s many a thing that’s earned him his presence here, but most prominently is the fact that he suffocated his little sister because the child was crying whilst he was trying to have a phone call.” A small growl escaped from Bella, with a smirk Peter rose with the human, pushing his shaking form towards Bella.
She caught him in a grip so strong that her fingers pushed through the thin barrier of skin on his arms, finding purchase on his sinewy muscles. Blood dripped onto the floor where Bella removed her fingers, licking at them, getting her first taste of the ambrosia that was human blood.
With that first taste she was lost, her left arm reached up, pushed the man to his knees, tugging his head so harshly to the side, by the hair, that his neck broke, the bone pushing through the nerves to the side and out through the skin, blood pumped out the wound from his torn jugular, coating the floor, the man, Bella in the substance. The flow only stopped when Bella’s head came down over the wound, her mouth acting as a plug as she sucked desperately on the man below her, his blood rushed into her mouth, pushed by his still beating confused heart, pulled by the suction from her lips. She pulled until nothing came. With a disgruntles but satiated sigh she released her lips with a slight pop. Blood dribbled down her chin, which she swiftly wiped away as she surveyed the damage she had caused. It was definitely substantial, he barely looked human. But then again he had barely being human.
“I got a little blood on the carpet.” The comment was quiet but by no means inaudible to her fellow vampire. Peter barked out a laugh in response. ‘A little blood’ was definitely an understatement.
“Nearly as much as you got on yourself, Little Lady. It’s fine I know how to get blood out my carpets. You go up to Char and get yourself cleaned up. We can work on control later.” Whilst Bella was accepting of her new life she was still in slight shock by the brutality she had experienced, the brutality she had taken part in, as such it was easier to follow instructions.
Char met her upstairs with a warm smile.
“You did good sweet cheeks. You resisted for so long, the control of the feed we can work on. I’ve started the bath running, you get undressed, those clothes will have to be chucked anyway.” They were so saturated with blood that some of it had passed through and stained Bella’s skin, creating a blotchy patter across her body. Though she didn’t realise it, that was another sign of her control. The fact that she did not lick at her own skin, suck at her clothes, the fact that she had enough of her mind to obviously be in shock.
Bella did not know how to describe the feeling of having a bath in her new form. She knew the water was hot, by the steam coming off it she would even guess at boiling, but her body did not complain, her skin did not redden nor blister. She was warmed only on a surface level, as if there was a barrier between the water and her, stopping her from truly feeling it. She sighed at Charlotte’s hands running through her hair, pushing blood out and lathering shampoo in her wake. It was a sensation that should have sent her to sleep.
Yet another weird thing, her eyes did not grow heavy or weary, instead she watched mesmerised as the clear bathwater turned a murky red. And all too soon it would all be washed down the drain.
Chapter 7: Chapter 7
Jasper returned home a lot quicker than he left it. He wasn’t sure what to make of all that he’d heard, nor what to do about it. Whatever he did next, he would have to leave. It was just considering the best way to go about it.
He would have to have a group meeting, tell half the truth and use that as an excuse for leaving before going out in search of the truth.
He couldn’t decide if he was glad or not when he saw that Carlisle’s car was already in. It would mean he would be able to leave almost immediately, but it also meant he would have to find the right words sooner. At a time when he wasn’t even sure he had the wrong words it became a scary prospect.
Like usual, when he got back in Rose and Emmett were curled up on the couch, staring absently at the TV turned on to a high action, high violence thriller. Still, when Jasper came in they both looked up at him, offering him a small but still present smile.
“I’m going to go fetch Carlisle and Esme, will you meet us at the meeting table.” A confused look passed over the couple’s face but nonetheless they turned off the TV as Jasper left them to go upstairs.
He stood outside Carlisle’s door for a minute, contemplating. He needed to do this but he didn’t want to upset Esme even further. It would as well. To know that Jasper was leaving, the fact her family was even more broken than she already believed. He steeled his courage, let out a sigh then knocked once sharply on the mahogany door. There was a momentary pause, then Carlisle was standing there, his usual kind smile fixed on his face.
“Come in Jasper, what can I do for you?” Despite Carlisle moving in to let Jasper in as well Jasper remained where he was.
“If you’ve got five minutes, can we have a meeting, downstairs.” Again he received a look of troubled confusion but both Carlisle and Esme followed him out. It almost brought a smile to his face when he saw that even despite how broken they were, they all still went to their designated spots. Carlisle sat at the head, Esme to his left, then down from her sat Emmett and Rosalie. And then there was him, opposite Rosalie, leaving a space for Alice and Edward on Carlisle’s right.
That was what killed the smile. Their absence acted as a reminder as to just why exactly he called the meeting. He sucked in a breath, about to start with the words he didn’t realise would be so difficult to speak. Before he could though Carlisle intercepted him.
“Are Alice and Edward joining us soon?” At the question, Jasper dreaded to think about what kind of expression was on his face. He doubted it could be pleasant. But he merely shook his head and went to carry on with his initial intention as if there’d never being an interruption.
“No, they won’t be joining us,” He paused, took in the confusion that he could both feel and see reflected on their faces, “On my way back from my hunt, I found Alice and Edward together,” The way that he said it left no confusion as to what exactly he meant by that, the gasp that left Esme definitely gave away she understand at any rate, “As such, I’m going to visit Peter and Charlotte for a while. I’ll be back eventually, I just need this time away. I couldn’t just leave not after...” He trailed off, but they all heard the unspoken ‘Bella’.
They just sat and stared at him at first. Letting the information settle in. Then the emotions settle over the top. The most prominent emotion was still confusion but there was understanding, compassion and sympathy also mixed in. Esme rushed at him, hugging him in a way that only a motherly person could, full of hope that gave you strength on your way.
“Just remember you said you’d come back, Jasper? We love you, and if you ever need us you can call us.” Jasper was glad he was now a vampire with the inability to cry, if only to maintain his masculinity.
Carlisle was next, his hug just as strong if not as warming, “Give our regards to Peter and Charlotte.” There was Carlisle. Ever the polite gentleman.
Emmett had none of the physical warmth of Carlisle or Esme but his brotherly pat-on-the-back-hug portrayed all the same emotion. “Gonna miss you Jazz-man. You remind Peter he still owes me a wrestling match.” Both let out a laugh at that memory.
Then finally there was just Rosalie, over the decades Rosalie had become the twin sister that they pretended to be. She was always his closest confidant and he knew he’d miss her the most. He hugged her back just as tight as she hugged him. And he wasn’t even surprised when she whispered in his ear, “I know this isn’t the whole story, but I promise you that you will tell me everything when you go back.” And then she let him go with a final kiss to his cheek.
The whole ordeal made him want to say fuck it and put up with the knowledge of Alice’s and Edward’s cheating. But like Rose had said there was more that just cheating, and it was that more than the cheating that was the reason for his leaving.
He left the living room to the room that he shared with Alice, a room that was decidedly more Alice’s than it had ever been his. He went to the one half of the wardrobe that contained his clothes and packed a couple of jeans, a couple t-shirts and some underwear into a bag. He dug through to make sure that there was nothing in particular that he wanted, nearly wrote everything off before he stumbled across his Stetson. It was his most prized possession but Alice hadn’t allowed it on show. But it was here still, he’d refused to let it be chucked away his human mama had given it to him for his 16 th birthday and it had survived all these years, through the southern wars.
Finding it built up a bitterness inside him, he pulled the jumper off and smart trousers he was wearing, in fact he practically tore them off before pulling on a pair of genes and a plaid shirt. He could almost imagine the smell of sun heated sand as he put them on, feeling more at home than he had in a very long time. He was ready to leave.
He made his way to the door, he almost left without thinking, but then right there by the door was the box to Alice’s favourite louboutins. He smiled bitterly at them, pulling them out the box, cleanly snapping the heel off each and tearing through the suede. Then he packed them back in the box and grabbed a pen, writing ‘Love, Jasper’ on the box lid. Now he was ready to leave.
He sent out a shout of goodbye as he passed through the house. The door seemed to shut with such an ominous bang that he looked back expecting there to be something there. There wasn’t of course, just memories. With a sigh he went to the garage, pulling his bike out of the garage. While he was more than able to get around without him, it would look suspicious his ability to get around with no obvious transportation. Plus, although it wasn’t as quick as running it was a very different, but just as exhilarating feeling to ride astride a bike.
He took the quickest root he could find to Washington. He genuinely wanted to visit Peter and Charlotte, and plus his curiosity was more than getting to him. Still, it couldn’t prepare him for the barrage of memories that remained here. He might not have been as emotionally invested as some of his other family members but it still wasn’t pleasant to be around here. He refused to go back to the house, he was more than physically strong enough to live in the forest. It would be easier to evade the wolves this way. He wasn’t sure the treaty would still apply being as Carlisle wasn’t here as well.
He went to the supermarket first. He needed food if he was going to be making an appearance in town especially as he was on his own. He wished Esme was with him. He felt so strange grabbing one of the small metal baskets to put food in that there was no way he was going to eat.
He was on the second aisle when he saw Angela Weber. He remembered her being friends with Bella, she’d being one of the less annoying humans at any rate. She noticed him just a second later, and where there had been a smile was now a look so full of anger of hatred. It was a look that Jasper hadn’t believed the amiable girl to be capable of, but damn if it wasn’t just her face that showed it. She was pushing waves of hatred at him, and there buried underneath it was a wave of sorrow. She strode over to him.
“You dare to show your face around here again? It was a little convenient that Bella was found dead the day after your family had left. I don’t know what your family of weirdos did to her but I swear if I even smell you around here again I will bring this whole town on you.” She was bitter and angry and her words left Jasper reeling. And just to top it off the incensed girl spat in Jasper’s face. He merely nodded without a word. There was nothing he could say, she would not believe his plea of innocence. He turned on his heel, heading back towards the store entrance, dumping his basket in the pile. Despite being a good distance away he could still feel the anger radiating to him from Angela in the store.
He had all the answer he needed to know now anyway. Alice was right, Bella was dead. He would make his way to Texas in the morning.
The aftermath of her first kill had been a weird experience to Bella. It had been a whole week now and still she would not say she had perfectly adjusted. It was as if everything was in a juxtaposition. The new clashed with the old in her mind to create a mess of emotions and feelings. The weirdest for her was her memory compared to her actual perception. Her memories were like an old TV, the image was bad, often breaking up in places and yet perfect nonetheless, none of the information was lacking, it was just portrayed in a weak format. In contrast, her perception of the world was in perfect high quality, her eyes were the highest resolution cameras, taking in everything, even the most minute aspects and storing them in the ‘new’ memory bank. She could pull on both memory banks, could pull out a VHS from the old life or experience what had already occurred in pristine Blu-Ray.
Her movements were much the same, every recollection of her movements seemed painfully sluggish in comparison to her old self. Vampirism had not curved the clumsiness though, just the speed, strength and agility with which she could move. Instead of her getting broken the world around her got broken as a result of her lack of coordination. The worst had been the first few days when the speed had been new, when she had still gone to move as if she was still human. She had not moved as if she was still human, she had rocketed from one position to the next and as her brain caught up and told her to stop she was unfortunately crashing into a wall, or a cabinet, a tree anything other than empty space which would have been convenient.
On the third day of her reawakened life Peter had brought her a feed again. To Peter it had been strange that the request had not come sooner. Newborns were usually insatiable, feeding at least everyday, maybe once every twelve hours if they caught the slightest hint of blood. But Bella had shown no discomfort come the end of the first day, merely frustration at her ability to master simple tasks. Peter had noticed some signs of strain come the end of the second day, she had taken to rubbing at her neck every now and again, was a little more agitated. But even Peter could not have predicted as to whether that was due to the uncharacteristic lack of blood or that she seemed to feel she was making little progress with adapting to vampirism. Still though Peter left her, wanted to test her, test her limits. The longer she could last without blood the sooner he would be able to take her out on her own solo hunt, teach her the ropes himself.
Finally, the third day rolled around. And Bella finally cracked, she was rubbing her neck nearly constantly at this point, she had an inability to focus on even the most menial of tasks let alone the more delicate tasks she was trying to accomplish. It was around half way through the day that she finally relented, looking to Peter with a shred of desperation dancing in her ruby eyes.
“Please, Peter, I need to feed.” He merely smirked at her. He’d spent enough time with her to know that she probably thought she was doing badly, that to ask for help, to feed would be seen as weakness.
“Of course Little Lady, you’ve done well to last this long. I didn’t even see signs of irritation until the second day.” She beamed at the praise, finally relaxing at the knowledge she was doing something right in all this madness of the new life.
The second feeding was no less messy than the first had been, a mass of blood pooling into the carpet, her hands a little too rough, tearing where it shouldn’t tear, teeth two eager causing blood to squirt haphazardly rather than pushing into waiting lips. And again, as the first time Charlotte was there in the aftermath, a change of clothes and a gentle hand to manage the taps.
Like the first time, Bella felt no guilt, what was the point when she knew the crimes of her meals. She would feed with more respect with time, and before then there were truly evil people who deserved whatever became them. Guilt was for other, guilt was for people like the Cullen’s who wasted so much time on other humans lives and had no time for their emotions.
The pattern repeated again through to the sixth day. On the first two she worked diligently on controlling all this power that was no wired into her granite muscles. Her progress increased, though accidents still occurred. Less things broke, and the crease of frustration started to unfold from Bella’s brow. Of course, there were still much to learn and she was allowed no where near the China. Again she started to show signs of her hunger come the second day after her last feeding but once again she ignored it and soldiered on, determined not to be a slave to her baser instincts.
And come the sixth day she was introduced to her third feast. This time a man who beat his wife to death for chatting with male coworkers. He had already destroyed everything meaningful in his life, Bella was merely saving him the disgrace and misery that he was sure to experience when his atrocious actions finally dawned on him.
“Right Little Lady, this is your third meal, let’s see if you can apply some of that restraint you’ve learned.” Peter was always looking for ways to push her into the correct ways of this life, and without it being the Southern Wars he could use a gentler hand and a more covert approach. He could focus less on the fighting and more of the beauty and nuances of being a vampire. He could hone her skills rather than just training her to be canon fodder. He could give her the introduction that he had not being granted. She reminded him of simpler times, of being human in a way despite being so different. Despite only knowing her for barely a week he saw her as a little sister and from the stolen conversation with Charlotte she saw their new friend much the same way. They had made promises to each other that even when the girl had outgrown her newborn stage they would not just leave her like the Cullen’s had.
Bella rose perfectly to the challenge. Instead of diving straight in like she had with the previous meals, she approached him at a sedate speed, she breathed in the air as his pulse increased. The scent of blood was heavy in the air, pushing quicker and quicker through the man’s veins by his racing heart. Bella was sure that had she been human hers would have been too, the excitement of being the predator causing her heart to throb. But she wasn’t so her eyes merely dilated in response, her body readying for the hunt, though there wasn’t much of a hunt to occur. Her eyes flashed to Charlotte then to Peter, looking for some kind of confirmation she was doing okay. A nod egged her on.
She cupped the man’s cheek. Monster looked into the eyes of monster. Still cupping his neck Bella leant down. Without context it may have looked like a loving embrace, a foreplay to something more. Bella let her fangs merely rest over the man’s throbbing pulse point, her throat burning, screaming at her from within, desperate for some sustenance. She ignored it, smirking into the man’s neck. The man shivered in fear at this action, pushing his neck closer momentarily to the teeth that he was so deathly afraid of.
“Now, now Little Lady don’t play.” Though the words spoke of reprimand the tone of voice was pure pride with a hint of amusement. Nonetheless Bella listened to Peter, finally letting go o her restraint, closing her teeth around the jugular. The restraint worked in her favour, the blood flooded from the four neat little holes to fill her mouth where she could gulp it back. This time there was no explosion, no blood coating carpets and walls. It was the most filling meal she had had do far, the flood long and constant for a few minutes, then as the blood drained it started to come in sharper bursts as his failing heart struggled to pump the remaining liquid through his system. He had long since fallen unconscious. And then finally he was finished with, drained completely of blood, no life left merely skin and bone and useless organs. The only sign of what had occurred was a drip of blood trailing down Bella’s lip. With a flick of her tongue even that was gone.
“You did so well Bella,” Charlotte’s praise was full of pride as she stayed with Bella as Peter took the body to dispose of, “I think Peter will take you out to Seattle soon. Only the outskirts though. It’s one thing to resist one human and another to resist a small group of them.”
Bella almost wanted to sigh. With every obstacle she manged to defeat there was another to face. There was always another battle to fight.
“How long did it take you? To gain control? To hunt safely in the city?” She wanted to know how long this would take, put some kind of time frame on it.
“A lot longer than it will take you, Little Lady. I was brought up very differently. I wasn’t expected to survive my newborn year. I was canon fodder. As long as I could fight I could feed to my heart’s content. We ravaged towns and cities. Tore through the citizens with no care to their backgrounds or morality. But you’re getting taught control. And even outside the newborns we’ve seen brought up outside the Southern Wars you have exceptional control.” Charlotte hadn’t missed the fear in Bella’s eyes and what she had spoken to calm them fears had being nothing but the truth. She offered a hug to the newborn who gladly accepted it.
Charlotte was quite a bit smaller than Bella but still she rested her head on the girl’s shoulder, accepting the offered comfort. Today had been a good day and she shouldn’t let a tiny comment push her back. She could only continue to work on her control, both with handling thing and resisting the scent of blood. It’d be difficult but she knew it’d be worth it so she could integrate back into society rather than being cooped up in the house all the time.
As the next day rolled around Peter looked entirely too smug with himself. Despite how short a time they had been together, Bella knew that face meant that he had something planned. Something probably to help her control this new body. After the smirk he rose, reaching out first to his wife with a kiss to her lips, then to Bella with a kiss to her forehead.
“Whilst this isn’t the Southern Wars no more, you need to learn how to protect yourself. If we ever run into trouble a team of three is gonna be better than a team of two.” With that he pulled both girls into the expansive yard outside.
Bella was excited for this training at least. She knew she was both faster and stronger at the minute than her counterparts and she was sure it would give her the edge in a fight, and with their training she could hone them skills and be a real asset to her new family. Because they were, despite only knowing them a week, Peter and Charlotte were family.
“Right Little Lady, you’re gonna fight Char for today and I’m gonna be on instructions.” With that Charlotte got herself into a ready position and Bella got into what she believed to be a ready position too. It was nowhere near the right position which she soon learned from the guidance of Peter. And if that early guidance wasn’t a sign for how the whole teaching would go, well then nothing was.
What edge she may have had from her excess speed and strength was completely eradicated by Charlotte’s sheer skill and prior experience. When Bella thought about it, it made sense, Charlotte had been fighting for nigh on a century against newborn who would all have more strength and speed than the waif like vampire. Knowing that didn’t make every defeat any easier. It seemed like every minute she was back on the floor, Charlotte’s arm pinning her head to the dusty floor.
And every time she went down Peter would stand there, a smirk on his face, “Up,” was all he’d say and it’d begin again. Well with a critique as well. Critique that were becoming increasingly annoying to Bella’s fraying newborn nerves.
Finally, her control snapped just slightly, she surged forwards, pushing all her strength at Char, catching the more experienced woman by surprise. With a short growl she caught the woman’s arm, twisting it behind her back with a crack.
A crack signifying she had ripped the limb straight from the woman’s body. The growl died immediately, Bella dropping the limb into the sand in pure shock. She stepped back, eyes wide as apologies fell from her lips.
Peter sighed, somewhat amused but worried for Bella nonetheless. He knew Charlotte would be fine, he realised Bella might not be so sure. He went to Bella, letting Charlotte reattach her own arm, she sent him a smirk as she took her limb back, dusting the sand off, she knew Peter would look after it properly later, reattach it securely with his venom and a feed.
The couple’s jovial attitudes died quickly though, Peter moving in front of the two woman facing northwards away from the house. They had company, company they’d only noticed when it called out to them.
“That’s quite a feisty newborn you’ve got there, Captain.”